By  on September 26, 2007

MALIBU, Calif. — Madison, the chain of specialty contemporary boutiques in Los Angeles, Brentwood and Malibu, has an upscale sister, Madison Gallery. Owner Mark Goldstein's latest concept in luxury retail opened this month in the Malibu Country Mart, a series of courtyards known for its casual clothing stores, restaurants, coffee shops and celebrity sightings.

Now residents of the wealthy beach community can find Nina Ricci, Balmain, Marni, Derek Lam, Zac Posen and Matthew Williamson, among others, at their local shopping center.

"The types of lines we carry in the store are already oversaturated in Los Angeles,'' Goldstein said of his decision to open 25 miles north of the city. "We would have loved to do this there, but there were other people there first. Malibu didn't have that, and we felt that the area could support us."

The 2,770-square-foot space is a former art gallery at the far end of the complex. "We wanted to be near the action, but not in it," Goldstein said.

The store doesn't conform to the normal retail aesthetic of the Country Mart. "Everything in Malibu is white," Goldstein said, referring to neighboring boutiques James Perse, Ron Herman and Planet Blue. "We wanted to do something different, and this store is more for the soul."

The dark exterior walls and heavy wooden door, which slides shut at the touch of a button to keep out prying paparazzi, give way to a loft-like space with dark gray walls, stripped wood floors and wrought iron rails.

Goldstein, an avid collector of midcentury French furniture and lighting, brought many of his own pieces into the store, such as a compass desk from Jean Prouve and a Charlotte Perriand daybed. He mixed them with industrial age lamps and worktables, as well as wire dress forms transformed into hanging light fixtures. A screen built into the bathroom mirror plays Matthew Barney's artsy film "Cremaster 2."

"The space is very lofty and big and not about stuffing a lot of clothes into it,'' he said. "It's more of an environment I hope will be more like a cultural experience that will inspire people."Nonetheless, Goldstein has a first-year sales projection of $3 million. The merchandise ranges from $668 Balenciaga jeans to $3,000 Marni dresses and the average retail price point is $1,200. Although the merchandise doesn't come cheap, it hasn't stopped Malibu residents from driving to Beverly Hills for the same items that Goldstein hopes they will buy locally.

Madison Gallery also carries collections from emerging designers such as Erin Fetherston, Jenni Kayne, Sari Gueron, Thomas Wylde and Todd Lynn, as well as shoes by Lanvin, Fendi and Pierre Hardy.

"This is a unique deal, and it's a hard thing to make work because it's not for everybody," Goldstein said.

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